Baseball oddity: Yankees' Urshela awarded three-ball walk vs. Tigers

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – In the end, it was just a quirk, a curiosity that had no impact on the outcome of the inning or the game, but it’s probably something we may not see again. The Tigers certainly hope not, in any case. 

In the sixth inning of the Tigers 3-2, walk-off, 10-inning win over the Yankees Friday night, Gio Urshela took a three-ball walk. Yep, look it up. Reliever Kyle Funkhouser threw him nine pitches in the at-bat and only three were called balls.

The Yankees Gio Urshela, center, greets Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, right, at first base.

And yet, home plate umpire Vic Carapazza didn’t say a word as Urshela trotted to first. Neither did Funkhouser, for that matter, or catcher Jake Rogers or the Tigers dugout.

"I didn't know about it until after the game," Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. "(Casey) Mize told me in the handshake line after we'd won."

The umpiring crew didn’t know anything about it until crew chief Jerry Meals was approached by the Associated Press’s Noah Trister, who served as a pool reporter.

“It was a missed count. He went to first on three balls,” Meals admitted.

Meals said had they been questioned, they would’ve gone to replay and it would have been corrected. 

“Didn’t know anything about it until after the game,” he said.

Apparently, one of Urshela’s five foul balls in the at-bat, a checked swing on the second pitch , was put on the board as a ball.

"The way it went down, it's obviously our fault on the bench," Hinch said. "I could go to replay and get a count check and we should've done that. The confusing part, the ball that was up and in (second pitch), the Yankees were looking at it to see if it was a hit by pitch.

"We didn't think it was a foul ball."

Urshela fouled off four pitches and what should've been ball three, which counted as ball four, went to the backstop and Urshela raced to first.

"We just all missed it and it's our fault," Hinch said. "It should take four balls to walk and nobody said a word about it. It's embarrassing. Fortunately it didn't come back to haunt us. 

"That could've been ugly."

Funkhouser erased Urshela on a fielder's choice ground out and after Rougned Odor singled, he ended the inning by retiring Clint Frazier on a ground out to third. 

Here is the sequence of pitches to Urshela:

First pitch – Ball one (94.7 mph sinker). 1-0

Second pitch – Foul (85.6 slider). 1-1

Third pitch – Called strike (94.7 sinker). 1-2

Fourth pitch – Foul (95.5 sinker). 1-2

Fifth pitch – Ball two (95.7 sinker). 2-2

Sixth pitch – Foul (95.5 sinker). 2-2

Seventh pitch – Foul (94.7 sinker). 2-2

Eighth pitch – Foul (97.2 four-seam). 2-2

Ninth pitch – Ball three (96.6 four seam). 3-2  

Ursela trotted to first base and despite all the technology, all the analytics-takers charting every pitch, nobody raised a fuss.

"Fortunately we escaped that," Hinch said. "If a run had scored there I wouldn't have slept last night."